Wednesday, March 31, 2010

NHC Entries

I entered three beers into the NHC this year, something I have never done before. each beer is described in more details, including how it faired in a big local competition in an early post here.

The beers were:
Bon Hiver (Belgian Dark Strong). This beer did very well in competition and earned a second place.
100% Brett c and 100% Amarillo Belgian Pale ( I entere dit into specialty category this time instead of Belgian Specialty on the advice from a friend who is a BJCP judge)
Meyer lemon Zest and Lavender Belgian Blond ( Same category but specified base style this time, the same friend judged this beer at the mini best of show in the category and said it didn't place because no base style was designated)

Not sure how they will do in regionals but I would like feedback especially for the two that were put in wrong categories/no base style specified.

Wish me luck!

Pictures coming soon, I am on the road right now.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Dortmunder Export aka Summer Swarm

I have brewed two lagers in the past 6 months (Light American Lager and a Schwartzbier) and have really loved they way they have turned out. With summers warm weather on the horizon I felt that taking another stab at a lager would be in order. I wanted a hop forward lager, but not a pilsner, so I am going with a Dortmunder.

8# German Pils Malt

1.5# Munich

.12# Aromatic (brewmart was out of meladonin malt)

1.75 oz Hellertauer @60

.60 oz Hellertauer @ 5

.70 oz Hellertauer @ flame out

White Labs German Lager Yeast

Simple, the way I like it.

On a side note I racked my Schwartz Bier and IPA yesterday. Wow, I was very happy with them both. I dry hopped the IPA with 2 oz Simcoe and 1.75 Amarillo when I racked into the keg. I also blended two really old beers today. A 2 + year Old Ale aged on Port Soaked Cubes and a 18+ month Flemish Red. The Flemish Red has come along nicely and I kegged the rest of the Flemish Red.

Below are some pictures of the light American Lager. Bill's Beer was made for my fiancee's grandfather who is a self proclaimed "I only drink ice cold MGD". He loved this beer, I liked it, although I don't think it finished out enough and was slightly too sweet for the style

Friday, March 5, 2010

Competition Update

I just received my score sheets from the contest I entered a couple weeks back. I knew that I had earned a silver medal for my Belgian Dark Strong that was originally a Belgian Style Barley Wine (think Dark strong with lots of Marris Otter).

The first scores I looked at were my 100% Brett and Amarillo beer in 16e (Belgian Specialty). Average score 24.5 this was disapointing as I felt is one of the better beers I have made. I think the judges were confused by this beer. With comments like "Acidic and Brett character dominates. moderately high hop bitterness w/out much hop flavor. Low malt flavor, Very Dry Finish" then "Sour Finish", "Huge Brett Character is overwhelming", "Could not detect Amarillo hops, one dimensional". They say that no base style was given. This is an experimental/specialty beer. I did not really build a beer to any style but I wanted to showcase the 100% Brett ferment characteristics, and have the hops (said to give apricot like flavor) compliment the tropical fruit flavors of a 100% brett c fermentation. I feel I did a great job at this and many others have agreed. It is a wild ale, so what category do I enter this is? Ideas anyone?

My Golden Strong earned the next lowest average score with a 24.5 as well. The main complaints with this one is too many hot alcohols, and too sweet/underattenuated. I agree with the comments but feel the beer is good. I want to brew this beer again but really focus on low initial fermentation temps and then bump it up to finish the beer off.

Next up was my (Belgian Blond with Lemon Zest and Lavender). I expected this beer to not do very well because I think the lavender is a bit overpowering, but it is a crowd pleaser. The beer scored a 33 ave. with a 36, 34, and a 29! Really? With the other two scores being in the mid 30's. The judge who gave it a 29 also complained that the beer has diacetyl and grassy aromas. He even suggested that I do a diacetyl rest on a Belgian Blond Ale, really? Other than that the main complaint was that the lavender was a little overpowering. I am kinda bummed on this one because the min. score for the top three was a 33.5.

Finally my Belgian Dark Strong scored an ave. of 35. It scored a 37 and a 33. Overall, comments were great complex malt bill, but lacked a the typical strong Belgian Phenolics, also low carbonation levels detract from the beer overall. The one judge asked for the recipe. As I mentioned earlier I made this style as a Belgian Barley Wine based on a English Barley Wine and Belgian Dark Strong, but at 18+ months the hops have faded and the has become much more Dark Strong.

So in conclusion I feel that the scores were pretty fair except the 100% Brett beer. BJCP needs to figure out how to address the issue of wild ales. For my lavender and lemon blond the 29 with the 36 and 34 really seemed out of place. I don't really brew for competition so considering that none of my beers were brewed into specific guidelines I am really happy. It is good to get impartial feedback as well. I may even enter the two high scoring beers into the NHC and I will be entering them into the San Diego County Fair.